Well the short answer to the first question is that ProQuest is NIU’s publication partner for all theses and dissertations approved for graduate degrees. As for the second question, you should care because ProQuest provides NIU with the platform for submitting theses and dissertations to the Graduate School for review and ultimate approval. After that, ProQuest preserves and distributes your thesis or dissertation forever, within certain parameters over which you have some control.
ProQuest is an international, for-profit corporation headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It started out as R.R. Bowker, but its rise to fame really came under the name of University Microfilms International (UMI). From the development of microfilm in the 1930s to the construction of 21st-century digital repositories, ProQuest (under several different names over the years) has been a consistent leader in the technology of document preservation, including historical newspapers, archives and libraries, and (of course) theses and dissertations.
Now for the “why should I care” part. Well, first . . . because ProQuest supplies and maintains the infrastructure of NIU’s submission platform. When you click the SUBMIT NOW button on the Thesis Office website, you will be magically transported to the land of ProQuest, called the ETD Administrator. Rest assured, however, that the NIU Thesis Office is the custodian and administrator of that platform and your work remains in the secure, trustworthy hands of NIU (Carolyn Law, to be precise) until the very end.
The second reason you should care is because you’ll be asked up front to make some decisions about the eventual availability of your work after you graduate. You would be well advised to do some homework about these decisions before you start. THE SUBMISSION PROCESS – linked to the Thesis Office website – covers the most frequently asked questions.
Then a few weeks after each graduation term, the Thesis Office sends the electronic files of all the approved theses and dissertations (now called ETDs) to ProQuest, where they are ingested into massive databases, deposited in NIU’s Huskie Commons (our institutional repository), and tagged and indexed for online search engines.
To learn more about ProQuest in the big-picture sense, you might want to explore their website, www.proquest.com. It’s really quite an interesting enterprise for any scholar, academic writer, or researcher.
Closer to home, the Thesis and Dissertation Office offers a special presentation called Demystifying the Submission Process for graduate students preparing to submit. This 2-hour program walks graduate students through the specific steps of the process and answers all of your questions about publication options, Open Access, copyright, and more. This semester, Demystifying the Submission Process will be offered on Wednesday, March 9, 4:00 – 6:00 pm in Wirtz Hall 104. Advance registration is appreciated. To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Submission Process in the subject line.